Cashmere's Conscience: Wildlife Friendly Practices in Patagonia

August 28, 2012

Patagonian cashmere has gone “green” with a new certification by the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network. The business venture supports the local economy while respecting this magnificent yet fragile landscape.

For more than 20 years, WCS has worked on Argentina’s Patagonian Steppe to protect its fragile landscape and native wildlife. Rheas, Andean condors, and migrating guanacos are a few of many magnificent species inhabiting Patagonia’s plateaus. The region also hosts extensive ranches, and a thriving economy for local shepherds who cultivate goat wool for cashmere production.

Unfortunately, livestock compete with Patagonia’s native wildlife for food and water, and have caused desertification of 30 percent of the steppe. But newly certified practices elevate the region’s goat herds, validating their soft wool as “green.”

With WCS support, Argentina’s Grupo Costa del Río Colorado cooperative recently obtained “Wildlife Friendly” certification for its cashmere. To reach this milestone, herders minimized environmental impacts associated with goat ranching by adjusting herd size and improving the animals’ health, as well as using guard dogs to minimize livestock-wildlife conflicts with predators such as Andean cats. Although they now tend fewer goats, cooperative members have increased profits due to improved husbandry practices and access to an international market.

To read more about Wildlife Friendly practices and how WCS has advanced these efforts in Argentina, read our press release.

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